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Dinner and Beaujolais with The Wines of Georges Duboeuf

Duboeuf Dinner

Romain Teyteau from Les Vins Georges Duboeuf

Every now and then I mention one of the unexpected events, wonderful people, or unbelievable wines that make writing this blog worth every hour spent.  The great people are everywhere, as it seems to be a prerequisite to working in the wine industry.  The other two items happen when they happen, but it’s not usually too long between them.  Last week I had the good fortune to run into all three, at the same time, when I had dinner with Regional and Division managers from Quintessential Wines (Sabrina Reming and Brenda Hanson) along with Romain Teyteau, the USA Export Director for Les Vins Georges Duboeuf.  Almost everyone who likes wine has heard of Georges Duboeuf and seen the iconic flower labels on store shelves.

We at Red Wine Please started our personal journey into wine and especially red wine years ago with many, many bottles of Georges Duboeuf Vin de Pays D’Oc Syrah, one of those iconic flower label wines.   The Vin de Pays wines will wait for another time however, because this article, as was the dinner, is about the roots of Duboeuf.  That mean the Maconnaise and Beaujolais.

Georges was born in the Maconnaise, in Pouilly-Fuisse, where his family produced white wines from the Chardonnay grape.  Georges got involved very young, and stayed involved his entire life.  Now 83 years old, he is still at the center of the wines and the company.  Just two weeks ago he hosted a tasting dinner in New York (which, alas, I could not rearrange my schedule to attend).  We’ll do a much more in-depth look at Georges and his wines in a future article, as well as providing detailed tasting notes on a range of his 2014 Beaujolais and whites from the Macon.  Here, however, we’ll give you a quick overview and compare and contrast a bit between the 2014 and 2015 vintages.  You won’t see the 2015 wines on the shelf until later this year, but you will want to look for them.  Until then, don’t overlook the 2014 vintage.

duboeuf countryside

An idyllic setting

Many people who don’t like Chardonnay were turned away by the big, buttery and oakey styles that were so popular a while back.  They only think they don’t like Chardonnay.  Most California producers have veered away from that style, or at least offer a fresher, more balanced alternative now.  Unoaked Chardonnay is very popular.  When you look at places like Chablis and the Maconnaise in Burgundy, they have always made crisp, clean and beautifully balanced Chardonnay.  Many of the white Burgundies from the Cote de Beaune are the same.  These wines make great food wines as well as delicious sippers.  Don’t think “big and buttery” and rule them out without a fair trial. Also contrary to opinion is that many of these French whites are very affordable and represent excellent value.

Keeping an open mind is also vital when considering red Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape.  Most people know about Beaujolais Nouveau, the fresh, fruity drink which is celebrated every year at its release.  They are light wines, made for early consumption and quite enjoyable.  That is far from all of what Beaujolais has to offer.  The entry level Beaujolais is from the overall region, and does tend to be fruity and light.  A step up from that are the 38 village wines, which carry the Villages designation.  Higher still are the ten Crus, which can make some pretty serious wines.  In some vintages, as we will see, these can be full bodied, complex and age worthy.  We ran through a bit of everything at this dinner, so let’s have a look.

2014 – the 2014 vintage in this area was a classic one.  Wines are elegant, fresh, carry good acid and are perfectly built for food.  Here are a few we tried:

2014 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages – this comes from some of the 38 villages in Beaujolais, and really is a pretty classic example of it’s type.  It’s a brilliant purple-red in the glass and carries notes of red fruit and some spice.  On the palate the fruit comes through cleanly, but it’s the spice that really takes center stage.  Clean and crisp.  It’s also only about $12.

2014 Jean Ernest Descombes (Morgon) – a Cru wine from Morgon, this juice is garnet to purple in color, and has a nose of raspberry and some black cherry.  It’s medium bodied.  The rasberry comes through more on the palate, and the tannins are fairly significant.  This is a great food wine, and I would pair it to whatever dish you would normally open a Cabernet Franc with.

2014 Domaine des Rosiers (Moulin-A-Vent) – Moulin-A-Vent is know as the “King” of Beaujolais.  (Fleurie would be the “Queen”)  It tends to be the bigger, more tannic and serious wine of the bunch.  There is some manganese in the soil there, the only place in Beaujolais that happens.   This Moulin-A-Vent has nice structure to go with its floral and perfumed fruit notes.  There is some noticeable tannin and this 2014 can age.  Also, the fruit tends more toward black rather than red.  It’s around $24 and an excellent bottle of wine.

2015 – this vintage was hot.  Whereas the 2014 grapes came in generally in late September, in 2015 they were picked in late August.  The grapes became rich wines, with great expression and depth.  Alcohol levels are higher, and some are quite full bodied.  This is not what you, or at least I,  expect from the reds of Beaujolais.  Some examples are:

First the whites…….

2015 Georges Duboeuf Macon-Villages – a white from Maconnaise, this wine has lush fruit on the nose.  There are almost some tropical hints as well as a blast of Delicious apple.  Floral notes too.  Great balance and a fresh acidity clean off theDuboeuf Dinner 9 palate.  100% unoaked Chardonnay and delicious.  This wine carries the flower label and is a negociant level wine, meaning it is sourced from various villages and not a single Domaine.  Very nice.

2015 Domaine Chenevieres Macon – Villages – now we step up to a Domaine level wine from the Maconnaise.  Duboeuf is very active with the Domaines it works with, but the individual vineyards manage their vines.  What we have here is an elegant white.  This is off dry, and the slight sweetness is beautifully offset by the acid.  Romain commented he thought is was essentially at the level of quality you might expect in one of the Crus from St.-Veran of Pouilly-Fuisse.  I can’t argue with that.

Now the 2015 reds:

2015 Domaine de Quatre Vents (Fleurie) -from Fleurie, one of the Cru AOCs, comes this wine Duboeuf Dinner 3with dark, deep purple color and a rich nose.  The fruits tend more toward black in 2015, and this wine has some black plum and is almost a bit jammy on the palate.  It’s rich and expressive and the tannins are noticeable.  We had the 2014 open at home the same day, and it provides a great contrast into these two vintages.  The 2014 de Quatre Vents is elegant and seamless, more garnet in color, and carries some red fruit (rasberry and cherry, with a touch of Jolly Rancher!).  I love the 2104, it is lighter and a great food wine.  I also love this 2015, which is richer but still balanced.  This will retail around $22 when it comes out, which is a great price for a wine of this quality.

2015 Domaine Chateau de Nervers (Brouilly) – another Cru provides us with this, a rich and full bodied wine with black fruit and fairly stiff tannins.  It’s pretty big, especially for Beaujolais.  While delicious now, it really needs some time to hit its peak.  This will be around $20.

2015 Cote du Py (Morgon) – from the Morgon AOC, this is a full bodied wine with black and red Duboeuf Dinner 6fruit and wonderfully purity.  The acid is brisk but balanced.  It checks in at 13.5% alcohol and is my favorite of the 2015’s we sampled.  Great structure and solid tannins promise a long life.  It will age effortlessly for a decade or more.  I think when this is released we’ll pick up a half case and watch it unfold over the next 5-7 years.  Another $22 wine and a screaming value.  Buy this when it comes out.  Better yet buy a sampler case of them all and see which one you like best!

This is only a quick look at a few of what Georges Duboeuf has to offer, and what the regions of Maconnais and Beaujolais provide.  There is a vast amount to still explore, and we’ll do an in-depth article on Georges Duboeuf soon.  The stories Romain told during dinner hint at a great family history and a wonderful lifetime of wine making.  We’ll share some of that.

Toasting with Romain

Toasting with Romain

But for now – do yourself a favor and try some crisp, balanced Chardonnay and some fruity but elegant and structured Gamay from Beaujolais.  There are lots of choices, and the wines from Georges Duboeuf are great options.  Between these two vintages there is something for everyone, from the elegant 2014’s to the richer and more structured 2015’s.  It’s all good.

I could have stayed and talked about wine all night with Romain, Sabrina and Brenda, but Romain had a late flight to Paris and everything good must end, they say.  My thanks to Romain for sharing his time and his knowledge.  Also to Sabrina and Brenda for the opportunity to try these wines and for an thoroughly enjoyable few hours.

You can learn more about the wines of Georges Duboeuf at http://www.duboeuf.com/Home/Index.sls.  You can see more of the Quintessential Wines portfolio at http://www.quintessentialwines.com/.

A votre santé!

 

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